Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Peter J. Skoufis
So I started my job at the School in September. I lived at the YMCA. Washington was at the time already beginning its defense efforts even though we had not yet entered World War II. People were flooding into Washington, taking jobs in the new temporary government agencies. The job I had was at that Boys' School, which was right across from Pearson's Liquor store in Valley—now it is called the Guy Mason Center. The School was for delinquent children, placed there by the Juvenile Court of Washington and the District's social workers. I was referred to the School by the Civil Service Commission. The reason why I accepted the offer of employment was because of the working conditions. I could live at the School. My duties included getting the kids out of bed at about 6 a.m., taking them to the classrooms and teaching civics. So I was both a teacher and a counselor. I was finished by 2 p.m. which left me free all afternoon and evening to do my George Washington work. It was an ideal set-up for me. The School was run along the lines of Boystown—giving the kids what they were lacking at home and to try to set them on a course of a more fruitful career. These kids had been picked up by the social workers from broken homes, or homes where one parent was in jail, etc. They stayed at the School until the social workers could make alternative arrangements, such as foster homes. The School was run by principal Dan Ahern—former football coach at Western High School and a Georgetown athlete before then (a man of some reputation)—.
I worked at the School and attended Law School from September, 1941 until May 1942. Of course, in December, 1941, war broke out with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I, like many of my friends and University classmates, volunteered for military service. I had had ROTC training at Bangor High School and had taken some courses that I thought would help me getting my commission. But when I volunteered, I was rejected because of a physical problem that I had. I always had problems with my legs (varicose veins on both sides); so I was declared 4F by the Washington Selective Service Board. In May, 1942, I figured that I would have to find a position more in line with my career objectives. I applied for jobs throughout the Washington area. I applied to the Department of Agriculture, looking for a job in the administrative area, which was then headed by a Mr. William Jump, who was a very distinguished civil servant. I was accepted around the middle of May, 1942. I went home briefly to pick up some more of my possessions to move it all to Washington.
While in Bangor, I walked by my draft board which had kept in touch with me although my classification had been issued by the Washington board. I dropped in on the Bangor board to inform it of my new Washington address which was a rooming house convenient to the Agriculture Department. The fellow, who was an old family friend, at the Bangor board said: “Pete, we were about to call you”. I told him that I had already been processed and classified 4F. He said that that had been issued by the Washington board and didn't have validity because I was a Bangor resident and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Bangor board. So I began the process all over again; I started on a Saturday morning and by Saturday night, I was in the service. I had to call Washington; I couldn't get there in person because I had to report for duty at Fort Devens in a couple days. I was told by Ahern that I would be put on “military leave” by the Boys School. I never became an employee of the Agriculture Department.